How to Handle Distractions: The Squeaky Shoes!

The community had gathered. We had heard a sacred reading. The bell was struck. A gentle silence descended on us. Then, on the other side of the wall, in the parking lot a frustrated mother began yelling at her child, “I didn’t drive all this way for you to refuse to go to camp!’. The yelling continued, accompanied by a child’s mournful cry.  Beneath our feet the piano began, joined by happy voices of children singing camp songs. One after another their songs rolled along. The final straw were The Squeaky Shoes, rubber soles on linoleum, that sauntered down the hall outside the chapel. Really! So what was that sacred text???

That particular morning highlighted for me the delight of meditation. We (or is it just me!) have this image of sitting in stillness, all is serene. Maybe a few birds chirp or a gentle waterfall is a soothing white noise. Within a pristine setting perhaps I will settle into a place of inner peace.

But usually as soon as I settle on my cushion, I’m aware of the flopping of my mind, or emotions that get triggered. Again and again, as Fr Keating taught, I get hooked by some ‘boat’ that has entered the river of my thoughts and I’m engaged in sorting out all the stuff on the boat. Whether my physical space is serene or not, my internal space seldom is very orderly.

That morning, with all the yelling, singing and squeaking, gave me time to reflect again on how to deal with distractions when I meditate. They will happen! It might be internal thoughts that engage me or the squeaky shoes outside the room. I know they will come, so how can I let them not trigger an annoyance or sense of failure, but become one of the delights of meditation?

I know as my practice deepens the external sounds move more easily into something ‘out there’ and cease to trigger the cords of annoyance within me. They can still cause me to feel disruption. I look for the day when I’m oblivious to them. I’m not there yet. I’m not able to walk on hot coals! But I can breathe and let them pass. The internal roommate that chatters is more of a distraction to me. But the good part is that I can recognize when I’ve climbed on board and jump overboard one more time.

The real delight of distractions in meditation for me is the growing awareness that those distractions help me bring the quiet centre of my practice into everyday life. When I’m standing in line at the grocery store or caught in traffic I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then, right there because I’ve done it in my practice when The Squeaky Shoes walked down the hall. Or when someone gets annoyed at me or I feel irritated towards someone, or jealous of who they are, I can pause and breathe and return to being open to God’s Spirit right then because that’s what I’ve done in my meditation practice when The Squeaky Shoes were the last straw for me. Again, and again, pause, breathe and return my focus to God’s Spirit within me. I am a branch of God’s vine. I carry God’s Life-giving, Ever-Loving, Healing Sap within me. I belong to God. That is who I am.

Distractions! How do you deal with them in life and /or on the cushion???

Love and prayers for the journey

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

Breathing Underwater

 

One night in my dreams I found myself swimming in beautiful clear water. It felt wonderful! I realized that I was breathing under water. I wasn’t snorkeling or scuba diving. I had no equipment, just Anne, swimming and breathing in sparkling clear water.

Now all of you who love dream work will have some fun with that dream! I dabble in those explorations too and have had some deeply rewarding insights from dreams, including that one. But today…. Today I want to share with you a special moment from my waking life that reminded me of that dream sensation.

My granddaughter asked me if I’d join her scuba diving. We were on a family holiday at a resort that was offering a free scuba session. She loves the water and wanted to give it a try, but wanted company. Fifteen years ago I took the Padi Open Water Dive Training program and became certified. I let it lapse because I had such awful experiences. I’m a strong swimmer and very comfortable in the water but found myself unable to relax with the scuba gear on. As I looked at the surface of the water far, far above me I felt claustrophobic. I thought I would go home in a mahogany box. One time I thought I was going to vomit! I decided no more diving. But then, a granddaughter asks and of course I’m in.

We dove that afternoon and then, both of us so excited from our experience, signed up to do a longer training the next day. I think two things made the difference; a very competent, enjoyable teacher and how my meditation practice has matured over the last fifteen years.

Our teacher was wonderful. He was warm, engaging, clear, and encouraging. He delighted in my granddaughter and me, so glad to be teaching us to dive. He was one of those people that draws out the best in me.  After we had the gear on and were breathing under water with the regulator he asked us to sit on the bottom of the pool, simply rest there. The last time I tried to do it I couldn’t rest. This time I could feel I was at ease.

The sensation of resting in the water, either sitting on the bottom, or simply floating while deeply submerged, felt just like those moments in meditation when I’m held. Those moments when thoughts cease and the still point that is the ground of my being is all that there is within me. it is a place of deep rest and ease. As I floated in the water, recalling the mediation experience I could breath in the LOVE that sustains me. The dive became an experience of being held in LOVE, in LIFE.

Do you meditate? I think everyone can benefit from learning how to meditate. There are so many different pathways. I follow a Christian path and have learnt a variety of Christian meditation practices. I’ve also learnt secular, Buddhist and yogi meditation practices. There is scientific research now regarding the physical and mental benefits of meditation. There is a meditative practice that would suit you! It is a practice. It calls for persistence when it’s difficult. but oh, it’s worth it.

There is nothing quite like breathing underwater.

Love and prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire Founder (Canada)

 

 

First Writing Day!

 

As I woke this morning, I realized it was my First (self-declared) Writing Day! What a joy. I saw a whole day stretching out before me. A day that is unscheduled, open and inviting. Time to retire to my cabin, open the windows so I can hear the creek below me and relax.

I feel at home, at ease. I am where I belong, in front of my screen, eyes lifting to Howe Sound, ears attuned to Harvey Creek and heart at rest, open, alive, listening and feeling. Ah, how good life is.

I’m so very grateful to be able to say that, to know that this moment is good. I’ve just written a Field Report from Julia Cameron’s ‘Vein of Gold’. It’s a summary report of the work I’ve done according to her tasks of creating your life story. I’ve done a Narrative Time Line, discovered my Secret Selves, written a ‘cup’ or two to release secrets into the universe, transformed negative words into positive ones, created a Freedom Fairy to slay a lurking monster in my life and taken the Vein of Gold quiz – whew! That was all quite a bit of work over the last couple of months. Today, writing my Field Report was engaging, rewarding and satisfying. I was able to scoop up the pain, press it down and let the mature wine of my life flow. Time to savour it!

I’m wondering if these Writing Days will be taken up with re-reading and re-doing some of my past community reflections and blogs. I’ve wondered about gathering them into a devotional book. Or my time might turn to working more on the spiritual memoir I’ve started. I don’t know yet the focus of these days. I plan to post a little something each week in ‘Mystic in Motion’, just because that is my home base, a sorting ground for me.

What will I find if I re-read articles? Will I find sorrow? Will I find joy? I’ve noticed over the years that people relate to sorrow more easily than to joy. I wonder if most of my articles have emerged out of struggles. Generally, people seem to find it easier to say, ‘Oh, that sounds so difficult. I’m sorry that has happened to you.’, rather than celebrating or coming alongside a very happy person. Has anyone else noticed that?

We tend to share our sorrows rather than our joys. Who do you celebrate with? Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m cultivating this unseen audience in ‘Mystic in Motion’. I can be happy with you! I will celebrate with you the goodness of life. Today is my First Writing Day. Today seems to me, like a very fine day, a very fine day.

From Thich Nhat Hanh I savour: I know you are there, and I’m very happy.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Founder (Canada) of Contemplative Fire

www.contemplativefire.ca

READER ALERT! WordPress has begun inserting ads below my blogs. Better stop reading here!!

 

There’s a Sign on My Door…

There’s a sign on my door, but what is it? ‘Gone Fishing’ implies I’m off on holiday. ‘Out to Lunch’ says I’m taking a needed break for nourishment. ‘Under New Management’ says same business but new influence. ‘Sold’ says I’ve closed and ‘Retiring – Thanks for your business’ says the same. To some degree all of those are true, but not quite expressive of what’s happening to me.

As the days lengthen with summer ease, we prepare for our annual family visit and our move kicks into high gear, I realize the desire to release myself from the discipline of offering a weekly thought. I always write, for it’s second nature to me, but I need to give myself the permission to publish again when I’m ready. I want my offerings to be Spirit led, not pushed by my driven nature who produces no matter what!

Maybe the sign is ‘Relocating – New Location Four Provinces Over’. But that doesn’t quite express it either.

I find our move is taking up a lot of my energy. I’ve let my inner organizer get to work which has been helpful, but I feel the loss of the spaciousness I’ve known in the last year. When I started the blog, I was working, and it was therapeutic for me to write my angst. It helped me find a path towards more inner spaciousness and rest. Right now, I need a break from weekly writing, at least for the summer, or until the Spirit says again to me ‘Write Anne’. I want my offerings to be led by the Spirit and not by my driven, habitual nature. Perhaps they’ll become sporadic. I simply don’t know.

I’m currently reading one of David Benner’s books ‘Living Wisdom’. I’m wondering about writing a series in the fall that works through his material. Each chapter has ‘Questions to Ponder’ and an intriguing reading list. I’m considering using this material as the Study portion for my Rhythm of Life in the fall. He has published the book in a PDF and made it available without cost. If you’d like to explore it and consider joining me, here is the link:

You can download the PDF book at the following link: www.drdavidgbenner.ca/sdm_downloads/living-wisdom/

with the password: livingwisdom. If that fails try his website www.drdavidgbenner.ca

So… Good-bye for now. God is with you. Pray for me as Spirit leads you. Take care of each other. Who will you be kind to today? Who will you forgive? Who will you let love you?

I will miss you.

Love and Prayers

Anne

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

Making It My Own

 

Have you ever taken something familiar or even very traditional, and made it your own?

One of the spiritual practices that Smith gives in ‘Good and Beautiful God’, is to recite Psalm 23 every night at bedtime for a week. It was probably at least four years ago that I first led a group through this exercise. I found it quite comforting, a bit of tucking myself in to sleep. I didn’t stop at the end of the week. In fact, the habit has continued for many years now, only I found the psalm began to take on its own life. As the spiritual truths of the psalm became more real to me, the words began to change. I began to make it my own. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful freedom as I’ve played with the phrasing. Crazy… but maybe a bit like a jazz singer massaging a standard hit! I’ve had many versions over the years.

In the middle of last night, I found myself once again with Psalm 23 and had the idea that it was time to share it with you.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.

You take me to the ocean and forests.

You restore my soul.

I walk hand in hand with you, and your goodness flows into the world.

 

Even when I walk through The Valley of The Shadows, I’m not afraid

for you are with me, to guide and comfort me.

When people betray me, desert me,

you are there.

You notice me, nourish and nurture me.

I feel so full of your loving presence. Anointed.

You flow through me.

 

For sure, I will live within your goodness and mercy

every day of my life.

I will rest within your Presence all my days.

******

I began by using the traditional words, again and again. Slowly as the months went by and the truth of the scripture began to sink into my heart, shaping it, the words began to change. Perhaps my current rendition will inspire you to stay with this psalm, and eventually to play with it and make it your own.

Be blessed.

Enjoy.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

 

Transplanted!

The farmers out there might be upset with me as I mix things around! As I write about experiencing a fallow time of life, my husband and I have been house hunting and purchased a new home in a new location. We’re being transplanted!

Can you be transplanted in a fallow time? Maybe some of you farmers or gardeners can help me here. Maybe not in the farming world, but in Anne’s world you can.

I’ve discovered a whole new meaning to Mystic in Motion. First, the external motion part of actually moving. I see a lot of work and a lot of doing ahead of me. Can I do it from a place of stillness? I hope I’ll eventually get there.  Second, the internal motion. I found today my thoughts wouldn’t settle down. They were racing around. I was having conversations with all sorts of people. I was watching my inner extrovert hard at work, chatting up a storm. I was so busy! Still a Mystic, but I was in MOTION.

I did breathing exercises. I practiced yoga, read a devotional book and scripture. Yet when I sat to be still, there was simply a lot of motion. Off I went to the gym, and into the pool. The physical exercise helped focus me. I often pray or intentionally focus on a topic for each length of the pool. Ah… somewhat less conversational.

Does this moving show me my inner-extrovert who wants to talk to everyone?

Does this moving stimulate a part of me I don’t really know that well?

Can I keep inner stillness in the midst of the moving? I trust I can and these are murky waters that will settle. I love the old saying: Do you have the patience to let the mud settle so the water can run clear? So…. may I be still, very, very still and still moving.

How do you settle yourself when you’re running rapid?

But I am excited by the thought of my new home! Did I mention I can hear a river from the deck!

I’m a Transplanted Mystic in Motion.

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

For Lent, I’ll be posting Lenten Reflections through www.contemplativefire.ca. Sign up on that website to receive them.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

Still More Fallow Time (4)

more and more definitions spoke to me….

3. plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.

Crop rotation! Yes, we don’t need to be doing the same thing year after year, season after season. We can change. May I be open to whatever changes My Farmer has in mind.

Surplus production! Yes, sometimes I think we just do and do and do. In churchland it seems more is always better, numbers are always a determining factor, but deep inside me I don’t believe that. I don’t want to be part of More, always More. I want to be part of significance, Spirit led significance in each of our lives. That might be more, it might be less. May I be open to the Whatever the Spirit wills, rather than the bigger and better our world, including the church, clamours for.

4. the tilling of land without sowing it for a season

in the midst of my ease. God’s Spirit is ‘doing’ something. I don’t know what it is, but I trust My Farmer with the care of my field. May God till the soil of my soul. May I rest and receive God’s care of my soil. Till away Dear One.

Are you experiencing the invitation to a crop rotation and the drive of surplus production? What would it be like to change what you are doing or to rest awhile?

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

More Fallow Time (3)

I’m continuing to be in fallow time….

Here’s another definition:

  1. to plow, harrow, and break up (land) without seeding to destroy weeds and conserve soil moisture

During this fallow time, I’ve experienced some of that deep down breaking up. Some long held experiences that have bound me have been disclosed, named, embraced and released. Some weeds have been pulled up. I hope that work will make my soul’s soil more moist, tender and even fertile.

I’ve felt My Farmer plow deeply into me. It’s hard work. The image of a field is profound – it can’t run away from the farmer. I’ve felt held, lovingly, but firmly held as the plow turned up the soil of my memories. I recalled images, emotions, lies I’d known and truths I’d heard.

I know it’s done lovingly to destroy the weeds that had crept in. One morning I woke and as I rested in bed recalled some lies that had crept into my perspective. It was time to pull them out.

I’m grateful that God’s Spirit cares enough to plough my field and doesn’t leave me sitting there with weeds exposed, but comes to walk in the field with me, weeding as we walk and talk together.

It is hard work, but oh, it’s good work.

If you feel some invitation from God, I encourage you to linger with it. Engage with the Spirit.

More thoughts on ‘fallow’ to come next week!

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

Fallow Time (2)

 

I enjoy words and often poke through a dictionary. When I was reflecting on my time of rest, I dipped into the online dictionaries and found several ‘fallow’ definitions that spoke to me.

‘Fallow’ as either adjective or verb:

  1. usually cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle during the growing season

I know I’m cultivated(!) and trained to be helpful or useful to the world, yet right now the gifts I’ve been given to use in the world are on the back shelf. They are not to be used. I’m to be idle. I’m not to lead or teach or organize. I still pray, but even my prayers are different.

All around me I see people busy at work. I return to my church or community and encounter busy people, planting, tending and hoping for growth. I know that is a normal part life. We are meant to be working and growth is to be happening, but I know that I’m not to be a part of that work. I’m at ease in that.

A different kind of growth is happening within me. There is a life energy to being fallow that is very different. I believe it’s very needed in our world.  We seem to be absorbed in work and activity and have forgotten how to rest, how to value times of ease. We resist allowing ourselves to be idle.

What if we allowed ourselves, at least a day a week, time to lie idle?

More thoughts on ‘fallow’ to come next week!

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada

 

A Fallow Time

 

‘Anne, you’re in a fallow time.’  In the last while, a few people have told me that. One person, who is very action oriented, and believes the main purpose of life is to be actively helping others, said that to me. I felt she truly believed it and for the first time I sensed within her an acceptance of rest – at least for me!

I know I am in a fallow time. I entered it March 5 when I began my Sabbath Leave and despite doing some work, especially during the summer, I haven’t left it. I am in fallow time, a time of rest, renewal, regeneration.

Occasionally since March I’ve hit times of chaos such as when I travel or when I returned to my community after my leave, but generally my life has been gentle and very restorative since March. I haven’t sensed the farmer who tends my field, returning to use it again.

I really enjoy these open-ended days. I wake up in the morning when I’m ready to be awake. There is space in my day. It’s not already filled with appointments or responsibilities. I’ve enjoyed reading. I’ve dipped into expansive reading around nature, human rights activism, First Nations issues and their spirituality and ecological concerns. I’ve re-read some of my favourite spiritual teachers such as Rohr, Keating and Bourgeault. I’ve read them slowly, thoughtfully, meditatively allowing them to nourish my soul. I’ve spent time in scripture reflection, poking my way through favourite stories with fresh eyes and a non-teaching focus – just to enjoy. I’ve read novels, especially mysteries, played games and lingered over food. I’m regularly on my yoga mat, at the gym to swim and take long, go-nowhere walks. I’m sorting through my home, releasing things I haven’t used in years, discovering and enjoying other items that still speak to me. And despite that list, I don’t feel any need to justify my days!

I’ve found some definitions of ‘fallow’ that really speak to me which I’ll share in the next blogs, but right now I’m simply enjoying my quiet life.  I hope you’re enjoying your life too.

How are you? A new year begins…. What sort of resolutions do you make or not make? How does activity draw you? Which is more comfortable for you, activity or rest? Do times of rest generate guilt? There are times to work and times to rest….

If this is interesting to you, please show support by sharing it with a friend. Let’s broaden the contemplative pathway.

Love and prayers

Anne+

Mystic in Motion

Contemplative Fire, Community Leader Canada